There are many reasons why you may have taken a break from working, but no matter the reason it can be challenging knowing how to explain these gaps on your CV.
With the pandemic forcing many professionals into furlough and causing114 million people to lose their job it is all too common for people to worry about how to address this transient period.
We dive into how to explain CV gaps the right way.
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Honesty really is almost always the best policy here, so whilst you don’t need to go into extreme detail about why you have a period of unemployment, you shouldn’t lie about its existence either.
It’s common for people to try to extend their period of employment in their previous roles to cover up the gap, but this is a risky strategy. One call from your potential employer to a previous one will bring out the truth.
In the case of the pandemic, hiring managers will be sympathetic, many people were laid off for reasons outside of their control, so don’t be afraid to talk about it.
Remember, whilst you should be honest you don’t need to include exhaustive levels of detail on your CV, many of us have held long strings of positions in various industries and a hiring manager often won’t have time to read through all of it.
It is perfectly acceptable to omit exact starting and leaving dates and simply put the year to minimise gaps. This keeps your CV neat and to the point.
If you do have significant gaps in employment though, then a better place to address it may be on your cover letter, where you can tailor your reason to the job, e.g. why you see this as a great opportunity to get back to working etc.
Don’t let your situation intimidate you, turn it into a positive. Instead of not having a job for several months because you couldn’t find one, let an interviewer know that you were simply refocusing your career and needed the time away from working.
If that would be stretching the truth, explain your unemployment with a positive spin, what losing your job meant to you and what you took away from the experience. Discuss what steps you have taken to make positive changes to your career and improve your performance for the future.
Make sure you are ready to face questions about a career gap, if you haven’t rehearsed these questions in your mind or aloud then you’re left to improvisation, and that can be dangerous.
You don’t want to accidentally give an unflattering answer, or just blurt out something unprofessional if the pressure gets too much.
The old adage ‘be prepared or prepare to fail’ applies; do your homework. Have a good hard think about how you can talk about your career gap as honestly and positively as possible, and practice answering hypothetical questions till you are definitely confident.
The longer your gap the more planning that is required but if you have thought it all through carefully than there is no reason why you can’t positively explain you break in employment.
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